Tag: Music licensing

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A Modern Melody for the Music Industry: The Music Modernization Act Just Passed Congress and Awaits Presidential Approval
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U.S. Copyright Office Chief Testifies: Eight Issues Ready for Legislation

A Modern Melody for the Music Industry: The Music Modernization Act Just Passed Congress and Awaits Presidential Approval

By Mark Wittow, Katie Staba and Trevor M. Gates

On September 25, 2018, the House concurred in Senate amendments to the newly-named Orrin G. Hatch-Bob Goodlatte Music Modernization Act (the “MMA”), sending that act to the president for signature.[1] The MMA is intended to “modernize copyright law” as applied to songwriters, publishers, digital music providers, record labels, and others involved in the creation and distribution of music. The MMA consists of three parts:

  • Title I establishes a licensing collective for digital music service providers to grant blanket mechanical licenses to such providers and collect and distribute royalties to rights owners;
  • Title II creates a royalty structure to compensate owners of pre-1972 sound recordings; and
  • Title III provides a statutory right for producers, mixers, and sound engineers to collect royalties for digital transmissions of sound recordings.

The MMA is the result of unprecedented alignment among Republicans and Democrats, the U.S. House and Senate, and music industry stakeholders.[2] Nonetheless, this major update to copyright licensing law in the music industry may cause upheaval within the complex music marketplace structure, which encompasses songwriters, studio professionals, artists, record labels, and digital streaming services.[3]

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U.S. Copyright Office Chief Testifies: Eight Issues Ready for Legislation

On April 29, 2015, U.S. Register of Copyrights, Maria Pallante, testified to the House Judiciary Committee providing the Copyright Office’s perspective on updates to U.S. copyright law. In addition to recommending a more autonomous Copyright Office and flagging policy issues that warrant further analysis and attention, Ms. Pallante identified eight issues deserving current legislative action:

1. Music Licensing. After undertaking a comprehensive study last year to assess the impact of copyright law on the music marketplace, the Copyright Office recommends

  1. greater negotiating room for public performance rights  while preserving the benefits of collective licensing for smaller actors
  2. U.S. recognition of a full public performance right for sound recordings
  3. federal copyright protection for pre-1972 sound recordings.

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